Facebook faces United Kingdom fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

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Data protection lawyer Sean Humber from British law firm Leigh Day said users whose data was harvested have good claims for compensation against Facebook.

"Facebook users will be rightly concerned that the company left their data far too vulnerable to being collected without their consent by developers working on behalf of companies like Cambridge Analytica".

In Facebook's case this would amount to around US$1.6 billion (€1.4 billion).

It is the first financial penalty Facebook's has faced since the data leak was revealed earlier this year.

Cambridge Analytica, a London firm financed by wealthy US Republican donors, worked for the 2016 Trump campaign and for a while employed Steve Bannon, the CEO of US President Donald Trump's campaign and later a White House adviser. "We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the U.S. and other countries".

The British fine to hit Facebook comes as the social media company is also confronted with a hefty compensation bill in Australia where litigation funder IMF Bentham said it had lodged a complaint with regulators over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Wednesday's ICO report said: "The ICO's investigation concluded that Facebook contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information".

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In the US, Facebook's role in the scandal - including whether it withheld information on Cambridge Analytica's data-harvesting operations and their response from investors, investigators, and members of Congress - has attracted the attention of at least four federal agencies.

The accusations made by the Commissioner's office pertain to not protecting user data properly and not making clear how the user data was shared with others, according to The Washington Post.

OAIC is conducting its own investigation into whether Facebook breached the Privacy Act, which obligates organisations to ensure customers are notified about the collection and handling of their personal information.

The total is now estimated at 87 million, the ICO said.

Finally, in a hugely optimistic bid, Denham has called for an "ethical pause" to allow lawmakers, regulators, political parties, online platforms and the public "to reflect on their responsibilities in the era of big data before there is a greater expansion in the use of new technologies".

Neither would be the first class action Facebook is fighting over this issue.

Facebook's revenue previous year totalled $40.7bn (£30.7bn), so half a million pounds. The company has said it plans to do so "soon". If the Cambridge Analytica incident happened closer to the present, it would've fallen under stricter data protection laws and resulted in higher fines. Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote this story.

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